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Split personality. Liking the arts, especially opera, and hockey and Los Toros. I know, I know THAT one is non pc currently. But I can't help it saw some in Spain and got hooked, but good. But on the other hand right now opera and hockey are in the forefront!


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Operas at high altitude..icicles optional

Day One at Santa Fe and "Life is a Dream-
well actually more of a nightmare..;-)
Conducted by Leonard Slatkin, 
who did OK, but then  10 tones are hard to miss ;-)?
Director - Kevin Newbury
Scenic Designer - David Korins, influenced by skeletal building remains?
Costume Designer - Jessica Jahn, decorative stuff, quaintly done
Lighting Designer - Japhy Weideman , rather innovative things lit up, here
King Basilio - John Cheek- rounded bass
Segismundo - Roger Honeywell - strong tenor
Clotaldo - James Maddalena - an old favorite, specialises in modern
Rosaura - Ellie Dehn - light and yet dramatic soprano
World Premiere of a new opera composed (some time ago)
by Lewis Spratlan with a libretto by James Maraniss, based on a major work by Spanish playwright Pedro Calderón de la Barca's "La Vida es Sueño".
(Calderón was born in 1600 to 1681. "Life is a Dream", among his many other works, feature the effects when  parents indiscriminately exercise their authority, as apparently did his father. Calderón studied for the priesthood but theater drew him to a successful career at the Spanish Royal court and player troupes who performed in corrales - open air theaters - surrounded by an audience which stood next to the platform or sat in galleries of seats around the perimeter.  Rather similar to Elizabethan theaters).
For dream we will, though we possess

No sense of where it is we thrive
And dreaming just means being alive.
The insight life’s experience gives
Is that, until man wakes, he lives
A life that only dreams contrive.
The king dreams he is king and reigns
Deluded in his full command,
Imposing order in his land.
The borrowed plaudits he obtains
Blow scattered through the wind’s domains
As death—man’s life is so unjust!—
Transmutes them into ash and dust.
Oh, who on earth could wish to wield
Such might when waking means to yield
It all to death’s dream, as we must?
Segismundo, Act II
Translated by Gregary Racz
The play philosophically "explores several dualities—the relationship between father and son, the importance of nature versus nurture in deciding behavior, the question of free will versus fate, and the difficulty of ultimately determining which, if any, of our experiences are real and which are dreamt" Or nightmares?.
10 tones is all that the composer used, combing them from 1-10 or back, or in any combo thereof.  You know, that kind of vocal sound (I hesitate to call it MUSIC, but that is strictly my opinion and may not be shared by others) reminded me of the Chinese language which also depends on inflections/shadings to express a  word, in this opera it's a feeling.
And such we heard on Thursday.
As can happen in Santa Fe..a huge thunderstorm blew in, literally dropping the temperature from the 80's to the 50's, combined with rain ..it was a bone chilling, teeth chattering night on the hill. People did le3ave in droves maybe because the were chased by those 10 tones (lol) or the COLD night, not being equipped with blankets, parkas, rain gear, earmuffs and gloves (yes, I did see several with earmuffs and gloves huddled under down comforters - that IS the chilling magic of Santa Fe..LOL).
An interesting experience, but ..let the composition languish again for years in a drawer IMO!
That actually happened after the commissioning opera company went kaput -due to NO  funds not because of the missing other notes :-) and so it took till this year for the resurrection of LIFE IS A DREAM by Santa Fe Opera.. 
Day Two at Santa Fe and "Albert Herring "by Benjamin Britten.
Lady Billows -   Christine Brewer, powerful singing, well acted comic turns
Miss Wordsworth -  Celena Shafer, soprano with an attitude
Florence Pike -  Jill Grove (HGO Studio Alumna) found HER niche as delightfully funny comedienne ?
Nancy - Kate Lindsay, a sweet lyric soprano who got better as opera went on
Mrs. Herring - Judith Christin, a known trouper, a bit apst her prime vocally making up for it by emoting a bit
Albert Herring - Alek Shrader, young fine voiced Tenor
Mayor - Mark Schowalter, biggish voice
Sid - Joshua Hopkins (HGO Studio Alumnus)-was replaced for this night by ??
Vicar - Jonathan Michie, pleasant rich tenor
Budd - Dale Travis, gruff rough bass
Harry, A Village Child - Richard Schmidt, piping sweetly
conducted by  Sir Andrew Davis
Director - Paul Curran
Scenic Designer - Kevin Knight
Costume Designer - Kevin Knight
Lighting Designer - Rick Fisher

Benjamin Britten's operatic dramas such as Peter Grimes, Billy Budd, The Turn of the Screw, or A Death in Venice are powerful works with many hued psychological shadings of human foibles.
With this opera Britten explores comedy and shows that he can be just as successful in a lighter vein. 
Briefly: "A turn-of-the-last-century English village is shocked to discover that chaste young women are in perilously short supply, so bashful Albert is crowned “King of the May Festival,” only to launch a night of revelry that leaves his elders aghast and his chums impressed."
Clips not from the Santa Fe Production.
Another modern piece of music..and real music it was!  And the weather cooperated nicely, after sundown it cooled but a light wool wrap was all that's necessary to keep the breezes away.

But this music was more accessible, with at times really witty turns of phrase to underscore the comic contents of the opera.
The piece abounded with arch cliches of English village life at an earlier era:
Peons' pulling imaginary forelocks when in the presence of Lady Billows, who runs the show or thinks so, while being influenced rather slyly but often by Miss Pike' opinions!
The Vicar, the subject of adoration by village females,
who is asked to dine at the mansion sometimes;
The fussy schoolmarm, striving for gentility;
The village Don Juan;
His inamorata, silly but good natured; 
The village simpleton, a mama's boy at the cusp of rebellion; 
The overbearing, restrictive mother;
The village Mayor never at a loss for words and slogans, aspiring to but not in higher class
Miss Pike, Lady B's helper and eminence gris, whose nosy mongering uncovers village sins and secrets
The proper, rough and gruff ex-military man. 
The opera certainly tweaks class distinctions, village morals, thumbs a nose at British pride (Rule Britannia), shows up the hidden or not so hidden sins in a small village.
Where everyone knows everything about everyone -
even if there are somebodies and not so somebodies
unlike Luckenbach, TX, where everyone is somebody!

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